- Updated by Faith Barbara Namagembe at 1142 EAT on Thursday 21 April 2022.
Entebbe International Airport’s main runway (17/35) that had been closed off for incoming big carriers has been reopened. The runaway was closed off after a RwandAir aircraft CRJ9 flight number 464 veered off the main runway upon landing due to bad weather at about 5.31 am today Wednesday.
The flight had 44 passengers and 7 crew members who all disembarked safely from the plane. Following the incident, all incoming flights for big carriers were diverted to either Nairobi, Kenya or Juba, South Sudan. Some of the affected flights include Flydubai, Qatar Airways and Saudia that were diverted to Nairobi and Flyduabai which was diverted to Juba.
Since the incident, small and light aircraft have been landing on the alternate runway, 17/30. Vianney Luggya, the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson says as of 5.30 pm, the main runway had been to resume receiving the big aircraft.
Ivan Mugisha, the country manager of RwandAir, says the affected aircraft was coming from Nairobi and expected to depart at Entebbe with passengers heading to Dubai, Kigali, Johannesburg and Doha.
“All the affected passengers have been booked into hotels and will board the next available flights,” says Mugisha after the aircraft was removed from the runway.
Earlier, UCAA issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), saying the main runway would be blocked temporarily from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. However, a second NOTAM was issued saying the runway would be blocked until 4 pm. The runway was thereby blocked and no incoming or outgoing flights were allowed from 5:30 am to 4 pm.
As a result, of the 34 incoming flights scheduled to land on Wednesday, only three landed, including RwandAir by 5:30 am. The rest were delayed or diverted to Juba and Nairobi.
Thirty-two departures were expected on Wednesday. However, only two aircraft had departed by 3 am. 23 flights were either cancelled or rescheduled while seven flights initially scheduled for departure after 7:30 pm were not affected.
Flydubai and Saudia, expected to depart before midday cancelled the flights while Kenya Airways that was initially supposed to depart at 10:50 am and 4:30 pm left at 8:50 pm and 10:30 pm respectively, Ethiopian Airlines initially scheduled to depart at 3 pm left at 8 pm.
Some of the affected passengers have expressed their disappointment with UCAA and various airlines for not ably briefing them about the developments.
The incident comes three years after an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft, carrying 139 passengers, skidded off the main runway at Entebbe airport. The incident happened at 12:41 am on January 3, 2019, when the plane a Boeing 737-800, overshot the runway. All the passengers and flight crew disembarked safely but the incoming flights were affected by the incident.
Uganda currently has one international airport but the construction of another international airport in Hoima are in advanced stages while Entebbe airport is also undergoing expansion works.